In what could be seen as a revolution amongst all of the alternative subcultures, it has been officially announced that 'Hate Crime' is now recognized by Greater Manchester Police, thus becoming the first police force in the UK to do so.
This is in the aftermath of the 2007 attacks on two goths, miss Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Robert Maltby, the former of which sadly passed away from her sustained head injuries.
The new induced recognition will allow any attack on anyone belonging to the alternative subcultures to be documented the same way as attacks on disability, religious and the like are recorded, therefore handing victims greater support.
Post-attack, miss Lancaster's parents set up the Sophie Lancaster foundation which was to "Stamp Out Prejudice Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere" in order to create an understanding and respecting nature towards alternative subcultures. Furthermore Bloodstock Open Air had renamed one of their main stages to the Sophie Lancaster stage, thus showing a great knit-tight community amongst the alternative scenes.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, GMP's lead on hate crime, is quoted to have said that:
"The launch of this new strand of recordable hate crime is a major breakthrough. We are able to officially recognize that people who wish to express their alternative subculture identity freely should not have to tolerate hate crime - something that many people have to endure on a daily basis. Sophie's tragic death brought forward a need to recognize that there are many other victims of hate crime that should be protected by law. While we have worked with the foundation for some time, I am proud to say we are now the first force in the country to officially record alternative subculture as a sixth strand of hate crime motivation."
Furthermore Sophie's mum Sylvia Lancaster acknowledged that: "It is a very proud day for me personally and the rest of the team. It is a validation of the work we have undertaken in the past five years and hopefully other forces will follow GMP's lead. A big thank you to Greater Manchester Police and all our supporters."
Comments from within the alternative subcultures have also been made.
Sevrenth Manager, Mr. Mike Green was happy about the news as Severenth have "Played two shows for the Sophie Lancaster foundation, we (Severenth) wholly support the recognition. Indeed one of our band members was kicked in the face in a park in Chesteer because he looked different".
Photographer Martin Hobby was also happy about the news, saying he thinks "Its great! I dressed as punk in my teens in the early 90's, before "alternative" was cool. I was bullied quite a bit, especially as I'm quite skinny I guess I was an easy target. Some people are afraid of anything that doesnt conform to their idea of normal and that fear comes through as hate".
Jazmine Stiles-Howard , vocalist of Essex Pop Punk band Remember December personally thinks "it's a positive movement for people like us, being part of the alternative culture. It just shows how violent others can be against those who different to themselves. It's saddening to know that especially in this age that human beings can be so judgemental but it's been this way for a long time and I'm glad that it's finally been noticed".
Holocaust from Suffolk Black Metal band Eastern Front stated that "It is great news that this tragic incident has finally got some justice. Unfortunately it is too little too late in the grand scale of things and sick crimes like this would be a rarity if we still had the death penalty in place!"
Jack Doolan of Cypher16 said this "has to be seen as a step forward which hopefully will be followed by other forces, and a testament to the work of the SLF. Why it has taken so long is obviously a question, and whether it will actually make much of a difference is another thing worth considering. I'm not sure a person who carries out acts on people specifically because they seem them as being 'different' will think any differently just because it might now officially be seen as a 'hate crime'? Nevertheless, it will hopefully continue to raise awareness of the subject and might eventually even go some way to stop such pointless attacks on people of any belief or lifestyle who are just trying to go about their lives".
Further afield, vocalist Eddie Berg of Swedish Metalcore band Imminence said it in a nutshell, that the alternative subcultures "Do what we can do prevent hate and open the eyes of the indifferent".
"Yes there are hate crimes in Sweden, but not at all to the extent of what is going on in countries like the UK or the USA. Still, a small amount of hate is too much". When asked about whether the Swedish government should pass a similar law or not, he replied "Absolutely!"
Vocalist Benji Webbe of Welsh Metal band Skindred also acknowledges that this is a great thing to happen.
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